featured image

Three Leg Exercises To Improve Your Skiing

Abe Maynard on June 3rd, 2022

Have you ever wanted to build stronger legs to improve your skiing? Unsure which exercises are the best bang for your buck? I’ve got you covered! Below you will find a detailed explanation of three hand selected lunge variations to help build stronger quads, improve core stability, and trunk tension.  All of which are essential to skiing. 

 

The lunge is a valuable ski exercise because it takes advantage of asymmetrical foot positioning. That's to say, one foot is always forward while the other is back. Although this may seem insignificant, we must remember that during a ski turn, we see this same pattern.

 

When you're going down the hill, one ski is always “uphill” and one ski is always “downhill”. To accomplish this, one boot slides forward while the other shifts back.  For this reason alone, lunges are spectacular for building stronger, more functional legs when it comes to choosing ski exercises. You can train this relationship in the gym with the following three variations to the standard lunge.

 

I’ve gone ahead and included two slides per variation as well as one stand-alone slide for how to properly hold kettlebells. The first slide will show the movement with proper form, noting in the caption things to execute. The second slide will show common errors that can create problems in the future, or limitations in your ability to get stronger.

 

The three variations progress in mechanics. The first is the easiest, the second adds an upper body and abdominal challenge, the third puts your skills to the test by challenging your entire system’s ability to stabilize.

 

STATIC LUNGE WITH 2 HANDED GRIP

 

This is the weighted foundation of all lunge variations and ski specific single leg exercises.

 

Rep Recommendations

  • 3-4 sets of 4-6/leg - Build Strength - go heavy
  • 2-3 sets of 8-10/leg - Build Size - go medium
  • 2-3 sets of 12-15/leg - Build endurance - go light

 

(1) Align shoulder, elbow, and wrist over the middle of the foot position. (2) Elevate the heel through the entire exercise duration to keep the hips square. (3) Allow the knee to drive over the toes during descent. (4) Maintain upper body alignment, head position, and abdominal tension through the movement. 
(1) Avoid rolling the shoulders forward. Control the weight, don't let the weight control you! (2) Avoid craning the neck, this will promote poor posture and place the low back at risk considering the back will always follow the head. (3) If errors one and two occur, then the low back will be placed under unwanted stress. It will be forced to support the forward shift of the body. 

 

KETTLEBELL DOUBLE RACK LUNGE

 

Now let’s take your foundation and increase the stress on your core muscles. This is great for skiing moguls and tough chundery snow that bobbles you. The placement of the kettlebells lines up directly above your core muscles.

 

By default these muscles must engage to prevent your low back from doing all the work. So, make sure to SQUEEZE your abs prior to every rep. If you're unsure how to do this, imagine someone is about to punch you in the stomach. The way you brace for that is by default core engagement! This is a great alternative if your forearms get tired holding the weights at your side.

 

Rep Recommendations

  • 3-4 sets of 4-6/leg - Build Strength - go heavy
  • 2-3 sets of 8-10/leg - Build Size - go medium
  • 2-3 sets of 12-15/leg - Build endurance - go light

 

A quick note on grip: 

The "Kettlebell Rack" position demands good form. To achieve this, maintain (1) locked wrist position and a straight line from the elbow through the knuckle. This position must be maintained, and the kettlebells close to the body in order to load the core muscles properly. 
Failure to do so (2) will result in broken wrists, sliding shoulder position, and increased stress on the neck muscles and low back. Additionally this error will flare the elbows (2) causing the shoulders to take on too much responsibility. 

 

(1) Maintain close proximity to the kettlebell by pulling the shoulders down away from the ears, and backward to keep them engaged (pinch your shoulder blades together). (2) Maintain elevated heel position. (3) Allow the knee to drive over the foot. (4) Maintain stable head carriage and shoulder engagement to keep the kettlebells close. IF the kettlebells drift away from you, the errors in the next photo will occur. 
(1) Avoid craning the neck. This will drive the head forward and then cause the back to round. (2) Forward leaning of the upper body will cause low back pain because the core muscles won't be able to support the load. (3) Mid back tightness will occur as a result of the forward movement. This will cause pain and or stop the movement. 

 

 

IPSILATERAL STATIC LUNGE

 

Okay, stay with me here. Ipsilateral is just a fancy trainer word for noting the side of the body opposite the stable side. Essentially you're holding weight on the side of the body with less stability. This is made obvious in the next visual. There you can see that failure to engage your core

Will result in tipping or leaning to one side.

 

This ski specific exercise is valuable because it represents a common exchange in stability that we feel on snow. Your obliques (side ab muscles) are constantly engaging and relaxing as your feet shift from side to side in a ski turn. Improving this ability will create greater trunk stability (middle of the body) so that you can ski anything you want.

 

Start light and force yourself to perform this exercise with perfect form. Film yourself and watch for changes in stability or leaning. The more upright you maintain, especially with heavier weight, the better off you’ll be on snow!

 

The rep recommendations for this ski exercise require proficiency in the first two lunge variations. The idea is that you go heavy enough that you have to “fight” to stay upright. That way you know the core muscles are being challenged.

 

Rep Recommendations

  • 2-4 sets of 6-10/leg - Build Stability - Go as heavy as you can manage without losing position.


 

(1) Maintain level shoulder position through entire movement. (2) Pin the elbow tight to the body to ensure quality engagement in the oblique muscles and side body. (3) Maintain shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle alignment through entire movement by flexing the abdominal muscles. Additionally, extend the unweighted hand out to the side and flex the arm. This will help the side body muscles engage to counter the weight. 

 

(1) Failure to engage the oblique muscles and stabilize the trunk will result in tipping or leaning. This means that the core muscles lack sufficient stability to support the weight. I recommend resetting and squeezing the abdominal muscles during the descent, or going down in weight. (2) The hips will become uneven if the core muscles cannot support the weight. Additionally, failure to clench the fist will leave the extended arm to wobble and shake. 

If you find this information useful, please share this blog post with another skier :). I hope skiers all over the world will have the tools necessary to properly train for the upcoming season. Make sure to incorporate these into your ski workout programs, or better yet, check out all 50+ customized skiing workout programs on our site by scrolling to the bottom of the homepage and answering the questions.

 

In Good Health, 

Abe (Founder)